My twins’ school had picture day back in October. Flyers and emails were sent out. Parents were verbally reminded every day the week of the event. Notices were on the board outside the gate where everyone has to stop to enter their access code in order to drop off or pick up their child. In other words, we were TOLD. Repeatedly. We were told so often and in so many ways, it should have been ingrained in our brains.
I was ready. I had matching outfits picked out for my little men. They were bathed, combed, brushed, their shoes were cleaned, they were neatly dressed. They looked adorable. We were ready! Bring on the photographer!
We got to school and went directly to the “studio” to have their pictures taken because everyone knows how hard it is to keep a 23 month old clean. Right? Don’t they? While we were waiting for the family in front of us to finish, Jason decided he needed to eat lunch. At 9 AM. Right now. The fit he threw trying to get to the Lunchable in their lunchbox was embarrassing. He doesn’t often throw fits, but this time he did and it was a doozy! Throwing himself on the floor, screeching, kicking, yelling . . . I felt like the worst mother ever. What kind of mother can’t even control her 22 month old? Clearly, I was the only mother who ever lost control of her child. No other parent in the whole school would ever have this happen. Obviously.
The boys finally got their pictures taken and, between the tears and the frantic attempts to get to the lunchbox, they came out fine. Good even. Afterward they had snack and the Lunchable was (mercifully!) forgotten.
But that is not the point of this story. When I was in the office afterward I passed a mom and her son. The son was in play clothes and an old Mickey Mouse shirt. I thought maybe he really likes Mickey Mouse and mom wanted that current obsession to reflect in the school picture that she’d be sending to grandparents and relatives. I was wrong. She dropped off her son and came into the office. She lamented forgetting it was picture day. She couldn’t believe he was having his picture taken dressed like that. She was mortified. And at first I thought to myself, “Well, I can’t control my kids but at least I’ve got it more together than her. I remembered it was picture day.” (Did I mention there is a reason I called this blog Better Than Myself? I try, but I’m not always the nicest person.) But then I thought, “No, that doesn’t make me have it together more than her. It means I remembered it was picture day and she had other things she had to remember. It means that she and I are the same – and so, probably, is everyone else here. We are all here. We show up. We do the best we can do. Some days our best is enough and everything gets remembered and done. And some days, we wish our best was better than it is.”
My point here is, it took me a minute, but I had compassion for that mother. Why could I not find that same compassion for myself? Because I, like her, am doing my best, even though my best is not good enough. Because my best used to be better than it is, under different circumstances and without kids and when I was younger than I am now.
How do you show compassion for yourself? Please comment so everyone can benefit from your wisdom.